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Skilled Foreigners Increasingly Shunning Japan

Quoted from here.

Monday, November 22, 2010
Skilled Foreigners Increasingly Shunning Japan
TOKYO (Nikkei)–Highlighting the growing trend of foreigners not finding the country an attractive place to work, Japan issued 49% fewer residency permits to highly skilled foreigners in 2009 compared with the previous year.

Last year saw residency permits newly granted to 8,905 foreign engineers and workers with expertise in other fields, marking continued decline since peaking at 22,792 in 2007. An official at the Labor Ministry predicts that the downtrend will continue this year.

Foreigners account for 0.7% of the individuals in Japan who have graduated from institutions of higher learning, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. This pales in comparison to 16% in the U.K. and 13% in the U.S.

Shinsei Bank employs many Indian workers at its Meguro Production Center in Tokyo.
Many experts point out that foreigners find Japan unattractive because it lacks services that cater to their needs. Foreigners often complain that they cannot carry out everyday tasks in English and that there are no appropriate schools to send their children to. Many decided to live here anyway when Japan was enjoying strong economic growth, but this has changed as the economy continues to falter.

Japan ranks 42nd in attractiveness as a labor market for those with advanced skills, according to Swiss business school IMD. This put the nation below not only the U.S. and European countries, but also China and South Korea, which are rising in the standings.

Meitec Corp. (9744), a major staffing agency for technical jobs, began receiving Chinese engineers for design and development positions at Japanese manufacturers in 2006. Such personnel peaked at 300, but the firm stopped accepting Chinese engineers in April 2009 as a result of the financial crisis, and the number has declined to about 100.

In addition, some firms are moving to hire foreigners directly at overseas units. According to Kenji Yumoto of the Japan Research Institute, “many companies do not feel the need to hire foreigners at home.”

Fearing that Japanese competitiveness will weaken over the long term, some corporations have begun calling on the government to take steps to attract more talent from abroad. Proposals include easing the requirement for 10 years of uninterrupted residency in Japan to receive permanent residency permits and revising a pension system that pays departing foreigners smaller lump-sum benefits than what they paid in.

(The Nikkei Nov. 22 morning edition)

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